Sunday, February 24, 2013

Red Pepper Sweet Potato Cream Sauce

After I made the butternut squash ravioli, I needed a creamy sauce to compliment it. This was a completely seat-of-the-pants experiment that worked like a charm. I swear, sweet potatoes are magical vegetables!

  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 baked then mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 roasted red sweet pepper
  • small amount of milk (1 tablespoon...maybe a little more)
  • dash of cayenne
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Throw it in the blender and blend till creamy. Heat briefly in microwave before adding to pasta.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Ravioli Fiesta

I was away last week, and had a particularly wonderful dinner one night of butternut squash and sweet potato ravioli. I have never made ravioli before, but did some experimenting today and made several dozen raviolis in two flavors.

Making the Pasta Dough:

4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons egg beaters

Mix the flour, salt, egg and small amounts of water.
Knead dough, adding water as needed to mix in all the flour.
Form fully kneaded dough into a ball and set it aside.

Making the Ravioli Fillings:

Spinach and Ricotta
8 oz Ricotta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 teaspoon pesto

Mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato
1 sweet potato - baked and mashed
1.5 cups butternut squash - baked and mashed

Mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

Shaping the Ravioli:
Roll out the dough.
Place a teaspoon of filling about 2 inches apart on one half of the roll.

Fold the dough in half.
With a sharp knife, cut through both layers of the folded pasta, and then trim to squares.
Seal the edges by pressing with a fork.

To cook, boil water. Add a small amount of olive oil.
When the water is boiling, add the ravioli.
Cook until the ravioli rises to the top of the water (about 5 minutes).

We had the spinach/ricotta/pesto ravioli tonight with homemade tomato sauce. 

I've frozen the butternut squash and sweet potato ravioli for another day.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Andrews Family Vegetarian Chili

If I had to name one dish as the staple in the Andrews Family larder, this would be it: Andrews Family Vegetarian Chili. We make this in a 12 quart stock pot, and freeze it into individual size containers for a quick, healthy, tasty meal. It starts like most of our vegetable dishes do...with lots of chopping. The proportions below are for a 12 quart pot. 

  • Diced:
    • Red Pepper (3-4)
    • Green Pepper (2-3)
    • Onion (1)
  • Minced: 
    • Garlic Cloves (2-3)
    • Jalapeño (2)
  • Chopped
    • Zucchini (2 small) 
    • Yellow Squash (2 small)
  • Baked, Mashed Sweet Potato (1 large)
  • Chopped Cilantro (1 entire bunch, washed)
  • 5 cans black beans, drained
  • 5 cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, or 1.5 cups your favorite tomato sauce (I use my homemade sauce)
  • Spices:
    • Cumin
    • Cayenne
    • Chili Powder
    • Oregano
    • Sea Salt
    • Black Pepper
  • Chop, mince, dice, bake, mash, and drain all ingredients as listed above. 
  • In stock pot, add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot
  • Add onions, peppers and garlic
  • Saute over medium/high heat until onions are translucent
  • Add first round of spices, about 1 tsp of Chili powder, cayenne, oregano, cumin, a sprinkle of salt and a pepper
  • Add diced tomatos / tomato sauce, and reduce heat to medium
  • Add zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potato and cilantro, stirring well to mix thoroughly
  • This is a good time to add more spices to taste
  • Add beans, one can at a time, stirring each time to mix thoroughly
  • Once all ingredients are in the pot, reduce heat to low
  • Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally and adding spices to taste, until vegetables are cooked through.
  • This dish benefits from a long, slow cooking cycle, giving the spices and flavors a chance to age. 
  • This can be served with sour cream, diced avocado, and cilantro garnish. 
Spicy culprits: Chili Powder, Cayenne, Oregano and Cumin

Yummy Goodness:


Thursday, February 7, 2013


It is true that we are both on Weight Watchers and have each lost a boatload of weight. One of the attractive tenets of the weight watchers plan is the ability to eat pretty much anything... in appropriate quantities. 

That said, our favorite fudge is made locally by the same fine people who make Goat Boy Soaps, but due to the gestational cycle of the goats, availability of this amazing treat is limited.

And so, I set about to create my own. 

  • 2 bags chocolate chips - I used Giardelli semi-sweet
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2/3 bag mini marshmallows
  • 2 boxes confectioner's sugar

  • Butter the sides and bottom of a cake pan. I used a 9 X 12 pan for this recipe
  • In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips
  • Add condensed milk, and continue to stir
  • Add marshmallows, a small amount at a time, continuing to stir until marshmallows have melted
  • Add confectioner's sugar, a small amount at a time, continuing to stir
  • If needed, add milk in small amounts to keep the mixture smooth and help sugar mix in
  • Continue to stir over double boiler until all ingredients are melted and combined
  • When mixture is smooth, and all ingredients are thoroughly mixed, pour into greased cake pan
  • Pan will be hot - handle with care!
  • Set pan in cool place for fudge to harden
  • When firm, slice and enjoy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Zucchini Lasagna (channeling Wendy)

I haven't made lasagna in a while because I'm trying to hold down the carbs. But my friend Wendy keeps posting these wonderful photos of meals made using zucchini instead of pasta, so I thought I'd give it a try.


  • Zucchini, sliced thin
  • Fat-free riccotta cheese
  • 1 egg, or 1/2 cup egg beaters
  • spinach
  • your favorite tomato sauce - I use my own homemade sauce
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Garlic Powder 
  • Shredded fat-free mozzarella
  • Parmesan cheese

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375
  • In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, and spices to taste. 
  • Slice the zucchini so it resembles lasagna noodles. I left the skin on. 
  • Coat the bottom and sides of a baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Layer the ingredients into the dish:
    • Zucchini "noodles
    • cheese mixture
    • Spinach
    • Tomato sauce

  • Repeat until dish is nearly full.
  • Top the dish with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  • Place the dish on a cookie sheet in the oven
  • Bake for 25 - 35 minutes, until cheese on top starts to brown, the sides bubble and vegetables are cooked
Zucchini "noodles":

Building the layers:

Finished baking:

 A blurry picture of layery goodness:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Sweet Potato: Is there ANYTHING it can't do?

Behold the lowly sweet potato. Homely, ungainly, oddly middle-aged looking....the Mrs. Patmore  of the vegetable family. But the sweet potato, my friends, is possibly the most versatile and clever of the root vegetables, and indeed the entire vegetable family. 

Baked sweet potatoes - with sea salt and a dash of cayenne or curry powder, or butter and a tip of easy, healthy side dish. 

 Mashed sweet potatoes...another easy, healthy side dish with your choice of seasonings or...

Mashed sweet potatoes are also a key ingredient in the Andrews Family kitchen as a way to thicken the Spicy Chick Peas, or the Andrews Family Vegetarian Chili.

Sweet Potatoes have even made an appearance at the breakfast table on Easter Sunday. Sweet Potato Waffles with ginger are a spicy wonderful variation on thick belgian waffles. 

Sweet Potato Apricot Hand Pies - sweet potato is not just for breakfast anymore! These are a yummy, not-too-sweet treat that can be made ahead of time, frozen, warmed in the toaster oven and enjoyed at any time of day. 

The moral of the story? Do not underestimate the creative powers and versatility of the dumpiest of the bunch. Creativity knows no bounds, and, as the saying goes, you can't judge a book by it's cover.

The Indispensables

There are two things, besides my beloved saute pan and my CIA knife, that are absolutely indispensable in my kitchen. Olive oil, and sea salt.

These are my "go-to" ingredients that I use in nearly every recipe.

Sautéing an onion? Start with olive oil. 
Baking eggplant chips? Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

The Colavita olive oil above I can get in my local IGA. The sea salt, I can't find nearby, so I order it from I also brought several containers home from London, where I found it in the grocery section of Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street, one floor down from the fascinators. The little blue pot, was a gift about a hundred years ago and I use it as the "on-the-counter" sea salt container.